Young people had many messages of support for other trans and gender diverse young people. They thought about their own experiences and wanted to pass on advice to people who may be in a similar situation.
The key messages were:
- Embracing difference and diversity
- Getting to know yourself
- Finding strength in difficult times
- Managing harmful opinions
- Cherishing and valuing your gender identity
- Trusting yourself
- Finding support in the community.
Embracing difference and diversity
People talked about the differences and variety in trans young peoples’ lives. Jay felt there was sometimes pressure to ‘fall into this perfect [idea] of what a trans person is supposed to be’. They said, ‘it’s fine for [trans young people] to fall outside of the binary… you don’t have to be a man or a woman if you’re more comfortable being neither of those things’. Eel said ‘you don’t have to prove to anyone you’re trans because your identity is yours, you own it’. Summer felt it was important that young trans people ‘be kind [to other trans people] and embrace the rich diversity [in] the trans community’.
Trans people of colour talked to us about the combined pressures of race and culture on their experiences. Anderson said that, while their white friends were seen as individuals, they were seen as representing ‘all the black masculine people that exist in the world. I have to be a good one, I’ve got to be a good experience for anyone who comes into contact with me, and that’s a huge weight to carry’.
Anderson talks about the pressure they feel when it comes to representing black trans masculinity.
Max speaks about the importance of connecting with other members of the trans POC community and to disregard the media.
June said trans people ‘have [a] sort of systemic and intergenerational …trauma especially people of colour… [it] means that we need to treat ourselves kindly.’ Max’s message for young trans people of colour was ‘if it’s possible, find a group for trans people of colour… Even if it’s online. If you can make friends with other trans people of colour, definitely, do it. … even if you don’t have to talk about race stuff all the time… ‘cos you know you’re not alone’.
Safia says young trans people of colour give me so much hope’ and deserve to be affirmed and supported.
Jessica talks about the difficult path for trans young people but to weather the storm and be yourself.
Bay said that they would have benefited from knowing earlier that it’s okay that everybody can have different experiences and that each individual experience is valid. Theo felt that having different pathways or journeys is fine: ‘it’s okay if you think you’re trans and then you realise you are not trans’. He said, ‘I think exploring gender, every person should question their gender, even if they are cis.’ (See also Trans and gender diverse young people: diverse journeys and pathways).
Rahul says you don’t need to label yourself straight away. There is no need to fit into these moulds.
H’s message to trans youth is ‘just be unapologetically yourself’. He says ‘you do you, just life your best life’
Getting to know yourself
People said it’s important to take time to understand who you are. Many spoke about supporting the variety of journeys people take. Jay felt there was sometimes ‘pressure to figure things out and to do it quickly’. Loges said that it was important to ‘take your time coming out’. Rosa said It’s okay to not completely have your identity figured out and changing how you describe your identity or how or what name or pronoun you want to use whenever is completely fine’.
Rahul’s message was to ‘just take some time to figure out how you feel about yourself and who you are and talk with people about how you feel.’ They went on to highlight that there is no ‘need to label yourself straight away.’ N said, ‘Take your time to figure out who you are. There’s not a destination.’
Jacob recommends for young trans people to take their time, trust themselves and the importance of finding support in the community.
Bee says it’s okay not to know everything about yourselfwe are always in the process of learning who we are.
Finding strength in difficult times
The young people we spoke to felt it was important to be open and honest about the difficulties young trans people face in the UK at the moment. Noelle said, ‘I think being trans in the UK is very hard, accessing healthcare is very hard.’ Summer worried about the future of the NHS and advised others to ‘save money in whatever way you can’ for private services if necessary.
Ezio also recognised the impact of ‘discrimination or prejudice or bullying’ for many trans youth. Several people said it was important to build resilience during these difficult times. Though they also said that life shouldn’t be this difficult for trans young people and that there shouldn’t be the need for them to be resilient. Read more about the ways people shared ideas of supporting their mental health and coping with transphobic messages in the media.
Ezio encourages trans young people to be patient when facing adversity and being prepared.
Jessica agreed that ‘it can be hard, it’s a difficult path, it’s not easy and we didn’t choose this.’ She also had this encouraging message, ‘just keep pushing. You will get there and it will be completely worth it. It is hard now, but this is a storm you can weather and you are never alone.’ She said ‘there will be people out there [who] are understanding and empathetic. They’ve probably been through the same situation you have. And they have got over it and they will survive and so will you.’
People also said to be patient and remain positive. Both Declan and Ezio said it was important to ‘be patient’. Freya said, ‘Stick with it, it will all be worth it, keep positive’. Henry had a hopeful message for other trans young people; ‘as much as there will be challenges, there will also be fantastic opportunities for you to meet so many people that will enrich and benefit your life, and you will have so many experiences that will enrich and benefit your life.’
Henry feels that being trans is life enriching and looks forward to the future by seeing older role models.
Managing harmful opinions
Trans young people described the effect of negative and harmful messages in the media. Max recommended that other trans youth should not let ‘anything that comes out of the news’ get to them. While it may be difficult to avoid all negative messages from the media, Cas advised others to avoid news articles wherever possible. He felt ‘they are always negative’ and give off ‘bad energy’. He continued to say ‘don’t listen to the … prejudice [from society] because it’s outdated and wrong. You are who you are, you can’t change that.’ You can read more strategies for coping with the media and self-care here.
Cherishing and valuing your gender identity
The young people we spoke to recognised that anti-trans attitudes can make it hard for trans people to feel pride in themselves and had messages of support for others. Cassie says ‘There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with this. You have nothing to be ashamed of.’
Cassie gives the advice for young people to be safe and know that they are not alone.
Elsewhere on this site, trans young people describe expectations to look and behave certain ways in order to live up to stereotypes. Several advised to try to ignore these feelings of not being ‘trans enough’. Reuben said, ‘don’t try and push yourself too hard as well and don’t be so hard on yourself, that’s what I’d say.
Young people said that others should love and cherish their trans identities. G said that love and acceptance can be found with other trans people, and that approval from people who are not trans is not needed.
Jack wants trans young people to know that it gets better and that they are loved and special.
Several trans young people we spoke to said it was important for young people to trust themselves and their feelings. Bailey says ‘you are the only person that knows how you feel’. Charke says ‘be true to yourself but to do what you know to be right and to listen to yourself and to know what you believe and to know why you believe it’. Eel had the following message for other trans and gender diverse young people, ‘no one has a right to criticise you because it’s, it’s your body and it’s your brain and it’s your life.’
Anderson says be awesomethe power is at your fingertipsyou live your best lives.
Finding support in the community
Some of the trans and gender diverse young people also said it was vital to find a support network and resources to help them. They found support from many varied sources (see Trans and gender diverse young people’s experiences of mental health). Many wanted to share these sources of support with others. Noelle felt that, ‘support …can be online, …can be friends, [it] can be family, [it] can be local LGBT groups’. Jacob and Kat said they found YouTube, trans communities on Reddit, Discord, and Mermaids to be very helpful to them.
Young people also recommended seeking out support from the trans community. Max recognises that there’s ‘nothing worse than just feeling, being alone’ in this journey. Tom said to connect and ‘talk to people’. Reuben recommends that other trans youth try to ‘make some friends in the community… whether that’s in the outside world or on the internet’.
Rosa says, ‘there will be trans people somewhere near you that you will be able to talk to and you’ll be able to find people online or offline or anything.’ Theo said it was vital to ‘reach out to a youth group, a helpline, or try and talk to someone you trust.’ Jessica said that other trans young people ‘will be understanding and empathetic.’ You can find more information about the LGBTQ+ groups in your local area in our resources page.